Friday, December 29, 2006

An Hour and a Half

So, do you want to hear about how I proposed to the LUC? Sure you do, the spam I get implies that the internet is full of romantics, well, er, something like romantics anyway.

This is a perfect story for my new expanded content blog. It features two things I'm passionate about in the same way I'm passionate about music: the LUC and bicycles. Sure, I haven't made a secret about my bike fetish on this blog, but I don't think it's clear just how important they are to my life.

You see, the LUC and I met through a shared love of bikes. She does a bike traffic report on the local campus and community radio station. It's an antidote to the ususal "There's a stall on Whitemud Drive." and "Watch out for radar northbound on 109th Street." sort of report you get on commercial radio.

I used to listen every Wednesday morning to this lovely Australian voice enthusing about all things bi-wheeled and human powered and wonder just what she was like in real life. At this point I'd been commuting by bike year-round for about a decade but I wasn't really part of the bike community. Indeed, I didn't really know anyone in any of the sub groups that can be labeled "Bike Nuts". If had been part one of those groups I'd have met the LUC much sooner.

To speed up a long story, she held a contest and I won. All I had to do was guess the email address she'd been given by the radio station and drop her a line. I was the only one who entered and she presented my prize (a bell) on-air. That was the beginning of our story together, and the end? Well, it's nowhere in sight.

Let me make something clear: the nature of marriage should be entirely up to the individuals involved. So long as they're consenting adults anything goes. Religion, government and families should only be involved to the extent that the participants wish them to be involved and my feeling is that institutional intervention in affairs of the heart should be minimal if not completely absent.

So why get married?

The LUC has made it clear that she's willing to make a long term commitment to our relationship without the rigmarole of marriage. I mean, she's said she's willing to have a child with me, and if that isn't a long term commitment? Well, I'll buy a Hummer and start voting Conservative.

The problem of course with children as sign of commitment is that that is a commitment through a third party. I'm not the sort of person who'd walk away from any child I had any part in creating. This means of course, that even if the LUC and I can't sustain a relationship I will always be a part of her life. Pretty obvious. So before we have that external tie I'd like to make a commitment to her and her alone. It just seems like the right thing to do.

On to the story.

This summer we'd discussed getting married and agreed that is was a good idea. This discussion took place at a fine restaurant, the kind where the wait staff not only take the time to know your name, but also treat cyclists who change into their fancies in the washroom exactly the same as they treat those who debark for SUV's in tailored suits and designer frocks.

Our conversation was overheard by our server and she made a joke that involved asking if we were married. I replied that I had in fact just proposed, mostly joking. The LUC looked me in the eye and said "No. No you didn't. And you better do it right buddy." Ah, it's good to have unambiguous instructions: a fuss had to be made.

Over the years I've made a habit of tying little gifts to the LUC's bike when its been locked up outside. I've left chocolates, flowers, bicycle Haikus even a couple of chemical hand warmers taped to the saddle on a particularly cold winter's day. This seemed like a good place to start.

My original plan was to put some kind of clue on her bike directing her to the opera, where we had our first date. Waiting at the opera house would be one of our friends who would have the next clue directing her to where we first kissed where another friend would be waiting ect.

The problem was, I couldn't decide which friends to include and she wasn't attending her dance class (the scene of many a gifting) regularly enough to set a date to swing into action. The encroaching winter was also a factor; if I wanted a "Yes" making her ride all over the city in the cold and snow was poor idea. I had to scale it back a bit.

I ended up making a crossword puzzle in which the answers were Meet, Me, Where, We, First, Met. I tied this to her bike with a bunch of red and white balloons. I then rode along the route she'd most likely take tying balloons to lamp posts, guard rails and street signs. The point of the balloons was to make sure she find me and to give myself something to do to keep the nerves at bay while I waited.

It turned out that she knew where to go (she's got her some smarts, that woman o' mine) and I wasn't really nervous at all. Excited yes, but not scared. That was the most surprising part of the whole thing, my lack of nerves.

I'm a doubting person. On a good day this makes me curious and eager to learn, on a bad day it paralyzes. I doubt myself, my emotions and my motivations more than I doubt faith healers, astrologers and economists. But from the time I tied the crossword to her bike to when she said "Yes" I had no doubt at all.

I spent an hour and a half waiting the LUC to arrive. It was a time were I wasn't just convinced I was doing the right thing, because conviction is a conscious act and I wasn't really thinking about it at all. For that hour and a half I simply existed in a state were spending the rest of my life with the LUC was right. It wasn't a decision or any other kind of thought, it simply was. I'm hard pressed to remember another time when I felt that good.

So the next time she and I are having trouble (And we will, this isn't a perfect world, nor are we perfect people) I'll be able to look back on that hour and a half of peace and certainty. I might not be able to feel it in our moment of conflict, but I'll remember that I once did. I'll remember that I can feel that way and will again in the future.

And that my friends makes all the legal nonsense and chaos of getting married worthwhile.


dray235 said...


Doug said...

Back in 2004, after 7 years together, my girlfriend and I decided to get married. We were both comfortable with our single status, and had no plans to alter that. We even made up our own label for each other. We introduced each other to strangers as "spousal equivalents". Forces from outside (family) compelled us to enter the institution of marriage. It was a financial decision. Far from romantic. But it involved her students loans and a significant gift. So we decided one day to get married. Didn't tell anyone except the parental units. We got married on hilltop in the woods with a chaplin and two witnesses. We didn't invite parents or friends. It was a moment for us and us only. It was on a day that was 7 years from the day of our first date. We wrote our own vows and it was beautiful. Less then a month later we both decided that we liked our single status and discussed getting a divorce, staying together, and not telling anyone. We decided against that deception, but talk about every now and then. Why am I telling you all this? A story nobody knows but my wife and I. I don't know. But what I do know is I felt that same feeling on our marriage day as you felt during that hour and a half. No doubts at all about our relationship, no matter what we call it.

LUC said...

Nice story, mate!
You didn't share the other exciting news - that you've been riding a fixie for a year now, as depicted in the photo.
Love LUC (LIC)

Coelecanth said...

Doug, thanks for that. I think you told me (and the 2-3 other people who occasionally stop by, sorry) because you got something out of it despite the forced nature of the whole thing. I totally get not needing to stay married, especially in your circumstance. The value in it was the clarification of feelings, that sense of certainty, everything else is just windowdressing for the government and family. Seems to me you're married no matter what you call it, and were long before the ceremony. It's too bad that you couldn't celebrate your relationship, or not celebrate for that matter, in your own way, in your own time. But hey, lifes like that isn't it?

Mind you, I plan on staying married. Don't panic my dear! That was my other point: everybodies different and how we order our relationships should refect that.

Coelecanth said...

that should read "everybody's different". Sigh. One day I'll get the hang of this English thing.

Coelecanth said...

also it should read "reflect that" I'm going to go beat myself with an Unabridged Oxford English Dictionary now....